Wyoming Football: News and Notes Ahead of Fresno State
LARAMIE -- Have you recovered from Saturday night's heartbreaker yet?
Didn't think so.
What about this Wyoming football team, you know, the guys who were actually on the field for that wild turn of events that took emotions from Mt. Everest to Death Valley in a matter of seconds?
With the Cowboys facing a short week because of a Friday night meeting at Fresno State in the season finale, there's no day off this week. You can forget about the trademark "24-hour rule" that allows players to sulk or celebrate.
Wyoming was back at it Sunday in Laramie.
How did they respond?
"I thought it was good," Craig Bohl said Monday during his weekly press conference. "When you have a young team, the more that young people believe in what the coach is talking about and they put it all on the line, their expectation is when they do that they win. And then for them not to win, you know, I was concerned about it. But we addressed those issues in a team meeting. We didn't have a really hearty practice, but we did a normal, what would be a Monday practice. I thought the guys responded well."
Wyoming's ninth-year head coach said it's easy to start patting yourself on the back. After all, this program was supposed to be down after losing numerous impact players to the NCAA Transfer Portal, fielding one of the youngest teams in the FBS and starting a new quarterback, who happened to be a third-stringer last fall at a rival school.
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That, Bohl said, is not taking place with this group.
"They had their eyes set on winning the Mountain side," he said. "And, you know, I know a lot of people at the beginning of the year would have said, 'well shoot, you ought to be just happy that you're competitive.' That's not the attitude of these young guys. It's great. They saw themselves as having the ability to be a champion on the Mountain side. When you don't get that, you get concerned about it.
"I think we've responded well. I'll know a little bit more today, but they have been an unbelievably enjoyable group to coach. I think I sound like a broken record, but it's just the facts."
Here are some other notes from Bohl's Monday presser:
* You're probably wondering if Bohl still feels he made the right call Saturday night on the final drive of the game after reviewing the film? I was curious, too. So, I asked ... again. Here is what he had to say about that final heart-wrenching sequence that culminated in a 20-17 loss to Boise State inside War Memorial Stadium.
* The injury bug has officially taken a chunk out of this roster. The depth chart Monday proves that. Running backs Dawaiian McNeely and DQ James are not listed. Wide receiver Alex Brown is out, too. There's still no Cole Godbout or Keonte Glinton, either. Bohl said he is in hopes Andrew Peasley will be ready to go under center Friday night in Fresno, but with concussions, it's a crapshoot.
* Here are a few new names to keep an eye on. Buck Coors, the nickelback from Loveland, Colo., is listed as a back-up this week. The redshirt freshman suffered a broken leg in a fall scrimmage and made his return to the field last week in Fort Collins. Not really a new name, but Joey Brassch has slid into the second spot at the running back position. Jaylen Sargent is also making his first appearance on the depth chart. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound wideout from Logan, Utah, has yet to see the field in his two-plus seasons on campus. Nose tackle Ben Florentine went from scout team to regular against Boise State. The 6-foot-1, 259-pound redshirt freshman from Anaheim, California, helped fill the shoes of Jordan Bertagnole, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury. Ethan Drewes, a transfer from Northern Colorado, also held his own in the trenches. Bertagnole is listed atop the depth chart against the Bulldogs.
* Titus Swen rushed for a career-high 212 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, Saturday night against a stingy Boise State rush defense that coming in had allowed just 107 yards on the ground per game. The junior from Fort Worth eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in the process and is now just outside the program's all-time Top-10 rushers, 102 behind Kevin Lowe (2,188). Swen has 2,086 yards on 382 attempts. That's an average of 5.5 yards per carry. "He's always been somewhat productive, but there's been other games where he had some breakout performances," Bohl said. "So, between his performances and his reads, and then, as I said before, this offensive line, the fullbacks and tight ends, they've really been impressive. So that combination, I think, added some really good productivity and certainly Saturday night was one of Titus' more productive games." Swen was not made available to the media Monday.
* Wyoming's senior day ceremony was brief -- to say the least. Only two of the players announced -- left tackle Eric Abojei and safety Miles Williams -- are actually out of eligibility. Offensive linemen Zach Watts and Marco Machado have decided to move on. Does this youth, along with a winning, bowl-bound season, get Bohl excited for the future? You bet. "It was impactful to me," he said. "You get in the middle of a season and you're young, and then all of a sudden, you're standing out there -- and I'm used to 12-to-15 (seniors) -- and you have four. You go, 'wow, we're out here competing for a potential Mountain West championship with four seniors that run out.' That's when it kind of hits you, you're going, 'this is a pretty remarkable group of guys.'"
* Having a headset on the sideline can be, well, chaotic. As mentioned on the television broadcast of Saturday night's game, it's rare for most players to listen in to what coaches are saying during a game, especially in the heat of the moment. Bohl said he has been guarded about letting players do that in the past, but he decided to let Peasley wear the cans Saturday night. "He was quiet," Bohl said. "... We felt like it was important. You know, coach (Tim) Polasek is upstairs and we have a mechanism to be able to talk to the quarterbacks, but to have a quarterback on the sideline, who had the wristband with the plays, he wasn't over the top, but he certainly was an asset there." Bohl said Peasley also wore the headset at Utah State when he was injured during the 2019 campaign. Peasley was not made available to the media Monday.
* Next year, the Mountain West is getting rid of divisions. If that happened this season, Friday night's game would have much more on the line than just playing for an eight-win season and potentially a better bowl invite. The Bulldogs have already clinched the West Division and will play Boise State inside Albertsons Stadium Saturday, Dec. 3. If divisions were axed, both the Cowboys and 'Dogs would enter Friday night with 7-4 records and a trip to that title game, which, with a win, would be played in Laramie. "We looked at that model and there were extensive conversations to try to do everything we could to place not only the champion, but place the champion in position to be in a New Year's Six game," Bohl said. "So, divisional games sometimes could be somewhat cumbersome."
* Wyoming will travel to central California on Thanksgiving Day. Before they hop on the plane, though, Bohl said the team will have a holiday dinner together at Altitude's Chophouse & Brewery. "You know, it further embodies a sense of family," Bohl said. "I know, while these guys may be somewhat disappointed that they're not with their immediate family, it provides a sense of family. All of our coaches and their wives and their kids are going to be there."
* Fresno State holds an 8-5 advantage over the Cowboys in the overall series, which dates back to 1992. The Bulldogs have won three straight, including a 17-0 blanking last October in Laramie. Wyoming's last win came in Bohl's first season on the sidelines at UW back in 2014. You might remember that night. Brian Hill gashed the 'Dogs for 281 yards on just 23 carries. He also scored two touchdowns in the 45-17 road blowout. Hill's outing is the third-best in school history.
* Kickoff Friday night is scheduled for 8 p.m. Mountain Time. The game will be televised on FS1.
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